CLEVELAND — Angel pitcher Kirk McCaskill was at it again Friday night, confounding batters with this and that, allowing just six hits, striking out six, lasting another nine innings.
"I'll take that stuff I had tonight out every time," McCaskill said.
Trouble was, the Angels were big on repeat performances, too, which goes a long way in explaining their 3-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
For the second consecutive game, the Angels failed to score a run, extending their scoreless streak to 19 innings. Over the same stretch, the Angels have managed just three hits, something guys like Wally Joyner used to do in one game.
But these are hard times. Joyner is in an 0-for-15 slump and has seen his average drop from .308 to .287 in the last five games. Ruppert Jones is 2 for his last 20, Rob Wilfong is 3 for his last 27, Dick Schofield is 0 for his last 10 and Jack Howell, who has been serving as Doug DeCinces' replacement at third base, is 2 for 18.
"I don't think there's any question our offense is a little bit stagnant right now," outfielder Brian Downing said.
Friday night, it was former Angel property Ken Schrom who became a local hero to the 9,387 fans that ventured into foggy Municipal Stadium. Schrom allowed just two hits, one a clean line-drive single to right field by Gary Pettis, the other a high infield chopper that Howell beat out at first base.
That was it. Pettis had the distinction of being the only Angel to reach second base when Joyner moved him over on a ground ball to second in the first inning. There Pettis stayed as Downing lined out to third and Reggie Jackson grounded to Schrom. That about did it for Angel scoring threats as Schrom retired 22 of the last 23 batters and 27 of the last 29.
"Hypnotic, hypnotic," Manager Gene Mauch said of Schrom's first shutout since September 1983.
Mauch is becoming an unwilling expert on this sort of thing. Wednesday night, he watched New York Yankees starter Joe Niekro limit the Angels to no runs, one hit and six base-runners. Now he's forced to sit through another nine innings to watch the Angels put, ta-da , four men on base.
"I don't know how (Schrom) did it," Mauch said. "He did a damn good job. I'll spend the rest of the night trying to figure it out.
"Somebody usually pays for things like this. I don't know if it will be tomorrow, the next day, but somebody will pay for it."
The Angels remain in third place in the American League West with a 26-27 record and are 2 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers. It could be worse. They could be the Indians, who, with one one less victory, find themselves 11 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Surprisingly chipper was McCaskill, who now has received two runs and nine hits from the Angels in his last 18 innings of work. "What am I going to do, come in here and fight every guy on the team?" he said.
McCaskill allowed a leadoff single to Mel Hall in the second inning, followed by another single by Tony Bernazard. That moved Hall to third, and he scored on Pat Tabler's ensuing high chopper to Howell at third.
From there, McCaskill retired 17 of 19 batters before catcher Andy Allanson singled, leading off the eighth. Allanson was forced out on Brett Butler's fielder's choice to Joyner at first. Julio Franco flied out to right for the second out, and outfielder Joe Carter was up next.
"We were under the impression that he was going to be taking (the pitch)," McCaskill said of a first-pitch fastball to Carter. "We figured with two outs and with Butler on first . . . we thought they'd give Butler a chance to steal."
So much for first impressions. Carter sent McCaskill's pitch into the second deck of the left-field seats. "He can't hit a ball harder than he hit it," McCaskill said. "If he can, I don't want to see it, I don't want to hear about it."
Carter, who singled earlier in the game, has hit safely in 19 consecutive games, the longest such streak of the season.
Later, as McCaskill changed into his civvies, Reggie Jackson stopped by for a handshake and a brief chat.
"You pitched well," Jackson said. "I owe you one, I owe you one."
Actually, Jackson can include the remainder of the Angel batting order. They helped.
"You can't get all uptight about it," Downing said. "Hopefully, the road isn't too long. Hopefully, it's a lane, not an interstate."